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Broadening the Spectrum for Student Support: Mental Health Promotion in Emerging Adulthood

Health, Safety, and Well-being Wellness and Health Promotion
James Larcus

This presentation will explore how wellness initiatives can transform concerns about college student mental health into opportunities for student development and growth. A model for wellness coaching will be shared as one approach that broadens the current spectrum of student support from traditional medical services to capacity building ventures that promote health, well-being, and success for all students. 

The attention and resources that colleges and universities allocate toward student mental health has grown significantly in recent years (Gallagher, 2012; Kitzrow, 2003; Sponsler & Wesaw, 2014). As a response, students are typically offered access to medical services that function according to a diagnosis and treatment model that represents the predominant lens through which student affairs professionals view mental health (Center for Collegiate Mental Health, 2016; Reetz, Krylowicz, & Mistler, 2014). However, this approach is not without its limitations. These types of mental health services are constrained by their staff-intensive structure and are often only able to serve a portion of the student population, namely those with significant impairments. Additionally, on many campuses, these services are often overwhelmed with demand by students seeking support (Gallagher, 2012). Given the challenging economic climates faced within higher education, the need to respond effectively to student mental health concerns represents a significant challenge.

Wellness Coaching represents an innovative response to this challenge, expanding the spectrum of student support by promoting capacities for holistic wellness that equip students for lifelong health and success. As a strengths-based program, Wellness Coaching services facilitate and enhance students’ abilities to successfully navigate the transitions that they encounter during their college experience. These challenges are reframed as opportunities to make decisions grounded in personal values and strengths in order to realize desired outcomes and accomplish personally meaningful goals. By promoting students health and well-being, initiatives like Wellness Coaching also may function on a preventative level, cultivating student resilience in a manner that decreases the likelihood of stress-induced mental health concerns. Finally, as a peer-driven model, Wellness Coaching represents a scalable approach to student support while also offering transformative learning opportunities to students who participate as coaches.

This live briefing will explore Wellness Coaching more fully, including the scope of services, as well as the resources and partners required to successfully implement this type of programming with insights from two campuses. 

Learning Outcomes

Following this course, participants will be able to:

  • distinguish between the treatment of mental illness and the promotion of mental health as two distinct, complementary approaches for student services;
  • describe the emerging trend of wellness coaching as an additive and innovative approach to student health promotion; and
  • generate ideas for services, resources, and partners that can aid in the support of students on their respective campuses.
Course Length
Course Type
On Demand

Register Online